Jenn and Andrew | Corkscrew Gulch and Alpine Loop Elopement
Savannah Chandler Photography | Ouray 4×4 Elopement Photographer
Jenn and Andrew’s Ouray 4×4 Elopement – Why they chose to 4×4
Jenn and Andrew decided to make an EPIC roadtrip out of their elopement. They drove down to Colorado from Ottawa, Canada in their Jeep with their dog in tow. When they reached out about potential 4×4 locations in Colorado to have an off-roading mountain adventure in their Jeep – in my mind, there’s only one place in Colorado that’s king of 4×4 roads: The San Juan Mountains.
There’s so many dedicated 4×4 roads leading out of Ouray, Silverton, Telluride, and the route they eventually settled on from Ironton. The Alpine Loop provides AMAZING access to multiple 4×4 roads that all intersect and connect multiple towns across multiple mountains. I feel like every 10 minutes on this road you’re greeted with completely different views.
Jenn loved the look of the red, iron crusted mountains at the top of Corkscrew pass so we met there just before sunrise.
Our 4×4 Route
We started our morning together at the top of Corkscrew Pass – which can be reached through multiple avenues. Jenn and Andrew took the traditional route through the forest from the town of Ironton. I took the back roads from Silverton just beyond the Silverton Ski area and met up with Road 10 to head up the pass. Both options are 4×4 only – Ironton having a longer route through a bumpy forest road and ending on a few tight switchbacks and Silverton having a dirt road that begins to ascend and hit a few switchbacks on the backside of the pass. Both are great roads with Ironton giving a more traditional 4×4 experience.
Our next stop was to head towards Hurricane Pass – a favorite view of mine in the area. As we descended Corkscrew, we stopped at a beautiful valley that overlooked Vestal Basin for a beautiful ceremony. We then hopped back on CR 10 and topped out at 12,730′ on Hurricane. Below the pass, you can see the incredibly teal waters of Lake Como (can be accessed when the road is open for Poughkeepsie is open – which is rated EXTREME).
As we made our way across the valleys that connect Ouray and Lake City, we made another stop just below California Pass to capture the crazy fog that was descending onto the peaks.
To end our epic 4×4 route, we descended into American Basin to check out the waterfall and American Peaks booming over the alpine valley.
Ironton >> Corkscrew Pass >> Vestal Basin Overlook >> Hurricane Pass >> California Pass >> Animas Forks >> Cinnamon Pass >> American Basin
No Permits Required in any mentioned locations for Elopements or Intimate Weddings under 15.
Always practice LNT principles and pack out what you pack in. Leave it better than how you found it.
STAY THE TRAIL on all 4×4 roads.
About their Ouray Elopement
Jenn and Andrew Eloped in both the traditional sense and modern sense of the word. It was an intentional and planned decision to spend their wedding day how they envisioned – but they didn’t tell anyone until after they eloped! I asked if they told anyone they were coming to the States, and they told a very select handful but that was it! We took a few photos on the Jeep with their Husband and Wife sweatshirts for an announcement of their marriage.
One of the biggest attractions about Eloping in Colorado is the fact you can Self Solemnize. You don’t need a single witness to declare yourselves legally married – just the two of you and some signatures. The witness lines can be utilized as you see fit. Jenn and Andrew decided to have their puppers be their witness and sign with their paw. And it’s totally legal to do so!
For the day of their elopement, we got a lucky window of clear weather. 2022 has been quite the rainy summer – which is great to have minimal fires happening, but means for small windows of time without the chance of being rained or thunderstormed out of a high altitude elopement. The night before, it was raining down cats and dogs. I knew we’d have some wet roads, but it appears that all this rain has had a washing out effect on many of the 4×4 routes. They’re the bumpiest and most rutted out that I’ve driven in the past 5 years.
With a clear 5 hour window – I knew that Sunrise was a fantastic choice on Jenn and Andrew’s part.
We were surrounded by dark clouds and low fog all morning. Our starting temps were hovering right around 32º F (or 0º C). Mornings at 12,000′ and higher can be frigid year round.
I don’t think we felt the sunshine once all day – but we did see it hitting some far away peaks in quite the dramatic fashion.
For their ceremony, they said their vows overlooking my newest favorite camping area – Vestal Basin. The lush meadow was a perfect spot to commit themselves to one another and sign their license. I always carry my Garmin InReach+ device with me (for multiple reasons) which allows me to look up the GPS coordinates of our exact location in real time.
We were able to visit SO MANY amazing valleys and different mountains on our one, long, continuous road. And a big bonus on a colder morning was we had the ability to hop back in the heated vehicles for a nice reprieve from the frigid temperatures.
I love being able to spend time with people from outside my home state in some of my very favorite locations.
Thanks again for adventuring with me, Jenn and Andrew! I hope that you had an amazing experience in the states and on your drive back to Canada. Visit again soon!